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Hathaway Brings Decades of Experience to Teaching Skaters

By Greg Bates - Special to USAHockey.com, 12/07/16, 3:00PM MST

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Maine skating instructor has coached all kinds of students in career

Lynda Hathaway has instructed hundreds if not thousands of young hockey players over the years.

Recently, the skating director at Troubh Ice Arena in Portland, Maine, had a former pupil she taught for a couple sessions come to the rink.

“He sought me out, he stopped me and said, ‘I can’t believe you’re still here. I’ve been wanting to tell you, Thanks to you guys, I made it to the NHL tryouts,’” Hathaway said. “And I’m thinking, ‘I’m not so sure that I got you there.’ But the fact that we helped him along the way is great.”

Hathaway has been making an impact on young skaters’ lives for 41 years, the last 32 at the Troubh Ice Arena. To put that in perspective, USA Hockey is currently celebrating its 80th anniversary season. Hathaway has been out there helping youth hockey players for over half those years.

Hathaway is used to having former skaters return to the rink to offer their thanks. For the 73-year-old, it never gets old. It’s a rewarding position.

“It’s a very positive thing to see a little kid improve his skating and know he’s improving, because we’re teaching heavy duty,” Hathaway said. “And they are very aware they can now do a crossover. And their parents cheer them on.”

Hathaway started coaching figure skating and ice dancing around the same time in 1975. Under the guidance of mentor Carl Walker, who was managing the North Yarmouth Academy Ice Arena in Yarmouth, Maine, Hathaway learned valuable lessons. Walker was highly respected as a power skating coach.

“He instilled in me the pride of teaching good, basic skills to young players,” Hathaway said. “That’s sort of where I got my face in the system of not being afraid to be a figure skater who’s teaching power skating.”

Hathaway helped teach a basic skills program at North Yarmouth Academy. She also taught at a number of other programs in the greater Portland arena.

In 1984, the Portland Ice Arena was looking to start up a skating program and Hathaway and her good friend Ann Hanson bid to the city to run the program and were selected. Hanson recently moved to Florida after over 30 years in partnership with Hathaway.

Hathaway taught skating as a second job before hanging up her redecorating business in the late 1990s to dedicate all her time to on-ice instruction.

Over the years, Hathaway has taught a mixed group of skaters from 6-year-old girls who want to figure skate, to 10-year-old boys wanting to better their skating for hockey, to a 30-year-old parent who wants to be able to skate with their child.

“We invite parents, male, female, any age, any level,” Hathaway said. “‘You want to wear a hockey skate, you want to come in and learn hockey skating skills, we’ll find a class for you.’”

Recently, Hathaway has noticed a trend toward fathers bringing in their young daughters to pursue hockey rather than figure skating.

“I make sure my teachers are very neutral in their teaching approach, so we’re not going around looking like we’re trying to teach this girl to be a figure skater, because in fact she may want to be a hockey player,” Hathaway said. “We teach very carefully. We teach good, basic skills, but we let the parents know there’s a hockey skills track and they’re welcome to take that track or they’re welcome to do both tracks.”

With anyone she instructs, Hathaway teaches how to figure skate first. Hathaway, who works with group lessons as well as private lessons, has kept the same basic teaching method for decades — with proven results.

“The skills that I stuck with are balance, flow, speed, power, agility,” Hathaway said. “Those are the things we’ve stayed with from Day 1, so that’s the first piece of what we do. The second thing is the classes are absolutely and unequivocally divided by skill.”

Hathaway’s sessions include an intro course plus three levels: Level 1 is forward crossovers and lower work; Level 2 is backward crossovers and higher work; and Level 3 is almost expert level and teaches real edges, real turns and agility.

“People are really devoted to coming in and learning with us,” Hathaway said. “I think the key is because we divide by levels and I’m adamant about it. A lot of times dads will talk to me about their sons. I’ll say, ‘It’s not going to be easy. He may do a couple lessons with me and I’ll say to them, he may not be comfortable. I’m a lady and I’m not going to try and be him and I’m not going to try to skate like him. What I’m going to do is find his strengths, find his weaknesses and we’re going to build from there.’”

Hathaway has enjoyed her time as a coach and isn’t quite ready to hang up her skates. She isn’t sure when that will be since she is still impacting young lives.

“The philosophy here has been: make it fun, make it fun, make it fun,” Hathaway said. “We have a high level of integrity in terms of teaching quality, but make sure it’s fun. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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